Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Neighbors Keep Complaining to Us About Noise”

From the forums:

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 12.57.47 PM

I live in a two-family home (think two-story row houses) in a big city and I’m having some problems with my upstairs neighbors. My boyfriend and I live in the one-bedroom apartment on the first floor, and a family with two children, 5 and 3, live upstairs in a two-bedroom apartment with a nanny.

I’ve gotten several complaints from the upstairs neighbor about the noise level of our TV even though I try very hard to make sure that the television is at an appropriate level. There was one night I got a complaint when I was the only one home and in bed! Usually, I respond to the complaints with an “I’m very sorry, we’ll keep it down,” but now I’m starting to get infuriated with the complaints.

We’ve never once complained about the noises coming from their apartment with their two children running around and dropping things, the opera (!) lessons taught out of the space, and the incessant vacuuming. We’ve definitely had our share of annoyances, but WE have always let them go because noise pollution is part of living in a big city, you know?

Anyway, I got another email from the neighbor today that says:

“Hello [me and boyfriend],

I hope all is well with you! I am writing with a request: the TV is really loud in the evenings and has been waking all of us up. Would it be possible for you to turn the volume down, especially after 10 pm? It wasn’t this loud prior to the summer, so maybe it has to do with where it’s situated.

Thank you!
Best,
[Neighbor mom]

I’m kind of tired of just apologizing for every little thing, especially when I don’t think it is really our fault, and we’ve done everything we can to be kind and courteous neighbors.

I wrote this up today, thinking I might send it to her, but I’m afraid of how it comes across:

Hi [Upstairs Neighbor],

I apologize if the television has been loud lately. The furniture in our living area hasn’t changed in well over a year, so I don’t think that is causing a problem with the sound. Also, we rarely have the television on during the weekdays after 10:00pm. (We’re usually in bed by 11:00pm!) Could it be a television next door that has the volume up?

I feel like we make an effort to keep the noise levels down, and we will continue to do so. We also understand that “noise pollution” is all part of living in close quarters in apartments, and we’ve refrained from complaining about the noise that comes through to our apartment as well, especially when little ones are afoot!

Again, we’ll do our best to monitor the television volume and hope that it sorts out the problem.

Thank you,
[Me]

————————-

I don’t want to be the passive-aggressive bitch, but I also don’t want to just roll over on it again and let the complaints continue. Especially because I truly feel that we’re the only ones being accommodating here.

So, what would you do? Would you respond? Not respond? Respond in the way I have drafted or in a different way? — Annoyed Neighbor

As an NYC resident who lives in an apartment, I can relate to this. I’ve been on both the receiving end of noise complaints (we have a neighbor who complained that Jackson was crawling too loudly back when he was a baby) and on the giving end of noise complaints. Something I wish I had done earlier rather than later is STOP apologizing for reasonable noise (like a baby crawling). I think by apologizing profusely, you paint yourself as the person in the wrong, even when you’re not, and then the complainers are more apt to complain because they think they’re entitled to whatever they want. But you know who’s actually in the wrong? The people who move to a big city and then expect to never hear their neighbors. Or the people who make unreasonable requests, such as asking a parent to get her toddler to stop walking so fast across the carpeted floor in the middle of a weekday afternoon.

Anyway, I digress. I think your letter is a good one except that you start off right away by apologizing. For something that isn’t even your fault! And then you finish the letter saying you’ll modify your behavior in hopes it solves the problem. But if you want to make clear the problem is not yours, don’t say anything that suggest it could be. I would write your neighbor back like so:

Hi [Upstairs Neighbor],

We haven’t rearranged the furniture in our living area in well over a year, nor do we frequently have the television on during the weekdays after 10:00 PM, so I don’t think the sound you’re hearing is coming from us. I remember another time you mentioned hearing noise from a TV, but we didn’t even have our television on, making me wonder if the sound you’re hearing is actually coming from a different neighbor.

We make an effort to keep the noise levels down, and we will continue to do so. We also accept that “noise pollution” is part of living in close quarters in a big city, and we are understanding and compassionate when the sounds of children, opera class, and general living can be heard in our home. We appreciate the same level of understanding and compassion from you, and we hope you’re able to locate the source of the noise you’re hearing and to reach a satisfactory solution soon.

Thank you,
[Me]

If your neighbors continue complaining, quit responding to the complaints. I mean, what are they going to do if you just stop responding? Hopefully, move.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

90 comments… add one
  • Ika

    Ika September 17, 2014, 8:06 am

    Love it Wendy!
    I hope you have an update soon VA-in-NY.

    Some people are just the worst. And seriously, if they hate noise so much what are they doing in an apartment,in a huge city?

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  • FireStar

    FireStar September 17, 2014, 8:39 am

    From what you wrote in the forum about her wanting your car key it’s clear she has an out of control sense of entitlement. Politely shutting down her …um ..noise is truly the best way to go. It’s just like talking to crazy. As soon as crazy thinks you are listening they start believing what they are saying has merit. Don’t talk to crazy – always dismiss.

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. September 17, 2014, 10:37 am

      Yeah, the key thing amazed me. How does a person even think to ask that? And you know if there was an accident in that car while that person was driving, the LW would’ve been at fault. That alone is reason enough not to hand over the keys, not just the fact that is was an outrageous request.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. September 17, 2014, 10:38 am

        *it* was an outrageous request.

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  • avatar

    lindsaybob September 17, 2014, 9:08 am

    I think Wendy’s response is perfect. Also, when you got the noise complaint and you were home alone in bed did you respond and say that it couldn’t have been you causing the noise on that occasion? It seems like your neighbour is just default assuming that all noise she ever heard in her apartment comes from your place, which is pretty unreasonable.

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  • honeybeenicki

    honeybeenicki September 17, 2014, 9:50 am

    I agree with Wendy that I certainly wouldn’t start the email with an apology and I would just stop apologizing all together if you do not believe you’re doing anything wrong. I like the amended email Wendy provided.
    .
    I used to have neighbors that complained about our dog and cats when we lived in a 2nd floor apartment. The worst part was they never came to us – they always complained to the management company. They would say our dog was running all over the apartment all day, which was rather impossible since the dog was crated during the day while we were at work. And our cats “jumped too hard” or something like that. I just ignored them (and told the management company that we crate our dog during the day and can’t control how hard our cats jump) and eventually they moved out.
    .
    As an aside…. crawling too loud?? Is that even a thing?

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    • something random

      something random September 17, 2014, 10:06 am

      I know, right? That crawling too loud comment might have earned my kid some tap shoes and Laurie Berkner sessions.

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  • something random

    something random September 17, 2014, 9:54 am

    Great letter, Wendy. It strikes the perfect tone of assertive and comfortable. It’s also polite, so the lw could send this and not worry about feeling awkward when she sees her neighbors (regardless of the neighbors’ response).

    I went back and read the key part from the forum. These neighbor’s have no sense of shame. They will probably continue to complain and request with a tone of utmost authority. LW, you simply shouldn’t worry about their response to things. This feels foreign to a considerate, unselfish person. Try to filter their judgements under the “manipulative” file, and go with the flow. Good luck.

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  • avatar

    jhoran85 September 17, 2014, 9:57 am

    my first question is does the nanny live with them in the 2 bedroom apt? If she does, are the landlords aware of it?

    I read about the parking situation in the forums – do NOT give an inch to these people, they will take far more. That is legally your spot and she has no right to ask for your keys.

    I live in a 2 family house as well, on the second floor. The house was built in the early 40s so we hear a fair amount of noise from downstairs. My downstairs neighbor, who has some sort of mental disability, has one of her adult sons living with her, sometimes two of them, and they happen to use the bedroom that is directly below mine. She is completely capable of living on her own, and did so for the first year or so after she moved in, but her sons are two of the rudest, most obnoxious, entitled people I have ever come across. They verbally abuse her, yell constantly, and most annoyingly smoke a ton of highly potent pot, usually from a bedroom window or on the back porch, meaning the smoke and smell come into my room and filters through the rest of my house. Last winter, the younger son smoked daily in the basement, constantly leaving a light on in an empty section (the rest of the basement is divided half and half per apartment) and leaving the side door to the basement open on a constant basis. It occurred to me, after a few weeks of unplugging this light every day, given the old wiring of the house, that this light was probably on my electric panel, and it was. I turned off the breaker and complained to my landlord that the basement door was being left open consistently and it was a security issue. These two guys don’t give a crap about anyone else, so I don’t even bother to discuss issues with them, I go straight to my landlord. His relative happens to live next door and must back up my complaints because usually after I’ve had a conversation with the landlord, the noise and abuse levels drop for awhile. I keep hoping they move out.

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  • avatar

    artsygirl September 17, 2014, 10:06 am

    Missed this one yesterday and just reread the comments in the Forum – holy crap I hope the landlord was super apologetic for even having to ask you!

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  • MaterialsGirl

    MaterialsGirl September 17, 2014, 10:06 am

    I think the Lord of the Dance lives above me

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh September 17, 2014, 10:14 am

      Yeah I’m pretty sure that the neighbors above me bowl every night and then throw the balls around after they’re done. They also vacuum EVERY day, sometimes twice. I think that makes me feel bad about not vacuuming enough more than it annoys me 😉
      .
      I will say all this talk of parking makes me appreciate my large parking lot very much!

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      • MaterialsGirl

        MaterialsGirl September 17, 2014, 10:22 am

        haha. oh the vacuuming! The neighbor below and I already have an understanding, so that’s not a problem (plus i only wear slippers in the house). The neighbor above wears her HEELS the minute she gets up.

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      • avatar

        ktfran September 17, 2014, 10:31 am

        Oh my god, the girls that use to live above me did too. And they couldn’t stay in one effing place. Back and forth, back and forth. Geesh. Although I never complained because you know, it’s apartment life.
        .
        As an aside, they did have a huge party once and all I wanted to do was sleep. That’s all. Out of frustration, I may or may not have kicked the wall behind my bed and I may or may not have left a hole in said wall.

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      • MaterialsGirl

        MaterialsGirl September 17, 2014, 10:38 am

        hahahahahaa omg. that’s hysterical.

        Before any parties, I will let my downstairs neighbor know. Radio Star has a heavier step, so he’s gonna need training.

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      • avatar

        ktfran September 17, 2014, 10:56 am

        What’s even funnier is when I’ve had company in the bedroom and he asked what happened to the wall…..
        .
        Thank god it’s patched now.
        .
        See, you’re a nice neighbor. So, they’ll know about the upcoming party! Maybe my sister, cousins and I should crash. Totally kidding.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. September 17, 2014, 10:40 am

        I had an upstairs neighbor once who clearly moved his furniture around every night. And then there was the crazy lady in the basement who howled. But I digress…

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      • MaterialsGirl

        MaterialsGirl September 17, 2014, 10:55 am

        howling? oh pray tell

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. September 17, 2014, 11:57 am

        Like a dog. Actually, more like a Sasquatch. I’d be hanging out in the living room and there’d be this howling. I had a friend over once and he heard it and was like “W.T.F. was that?” “It’s the crazy lady in the basement,” I said. She lived alone, did not have a dog and had few visitors that I could see. I had this vision of her standing in the middle of the room, throwing her head back and letting go. She did a lot of weird stuff. She hated me so maybe she was trying to freak me out, but I just thought she was crazy and so did the landlord. She called him on a weekend once to complain about my noise, but I was out of town at the time. He asked me if she was delusional and I said, “Well, she howls.”

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  • avatar

    ktfran September 17, 2014, 10:09 am

    I can’t wait to read VA-in-NY’s update! Seriously.
    .
    Wow, does this make me completely lame? Or maybe completely bored at work.
    .
    Wendy, I like your letter.

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    • something random

      something random September 17, 2014, 10:13 am

      I can’t wait either! Sometimes it is refreshing to hear about something easy.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 10:14 am

    Great response. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a Wendy that lived in your pocket and then before you interacted with people you could just confirm with her your approach first? Ha.

    I’ve noticed that high-rise living is really quiet because of the thick slabs of concrete between floors. But in my last condo which was a 4-flat walk up, you could hear each other. I was lucky to be on the top floor. Once I went downstairs to my neighbors and was horrified just how loud walking in my unit was in their unit (I think my mom or ex was walking around when I was in their unit). I get that with city living you have to just expect noise pollution, but I also think people should try a little to make life pleasant for the neighbors. In my case, I was really cautious when I woke up early – or so I tried to be – and I’d usually get up and quietly go hang out in the living room. (I didn’t want my footsteps in the master bed – which was right above their master bed – to wake them up, and I wake up so goddamn early that I was sure they would still be asleep.) Anyway, they never complained once but I dunno, I think everyone should try. Especially Jackson – how rude of him to crawl so fast in the middle of the afternoon (ha).

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 10:20 am

      But! But. Some new neighbors moved in upstairs and they through WILD AND LATE NIGHT PARTIES. I don’t usually hear them at night but in the morning, when I wake up up at like 6 am and am having coffee with Moose, I can hear their music blasting and people yelling. I think it’s because they’re no the balcony? I dunno. And these parties are happening week-day too. What the hell do these people do that they can party til’ 7 and 8 in the morning?

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 10:23 am

        *THROW wild parties…
        * they’re ON the balcony…

        sheesh

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle September 17, 2014, 10:24 am

        Lots and lots of cocaine?

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      • avatar

        Wendys Dad September 17, 2014, 10:43 am

        Addie, Moose drinks coffee?

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 11:25 am

        His a bit of a coffee snob that one. I like Dunkin Donuts, black but has to have Intelligenaia skinny latte blah blah je me said pas quoi

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 11:26 am

        He’s a bit of a coffee snob that one. I like Dunkin Donuts, black, but has to have Intelligensia skinny latte blah blah je me sais pas trop quoi

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 11:27 am

        Yikes that got messed up

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      • avatar

        ktfran September 17, 2014, 10:57 am

        Wait til we all get together and drink wine, eat cheese and I bake stout brownies…. that’ll be a party.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 11:37 am

        party at my place! these are the hours that i have the most energy to party: 6-9 am and 6-9 pm, so pick a time slot. haha.

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      • MaterialsGirl

        MaterialsGirl September 17, 2014, 12:15 pm

        that fits in perfectly with minnesota bedtime. (and the fact that now I am like an old person and wake up around 6 no matter what)

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 12:21 pm

        i knew eventually all my friends would start living my lifestyle! when we all hit our 80s i’m going to be the coolest 80 year old around. you will be in awe of my early rising and my penchant for dining at 5 pm.

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    • something random

      something random September 17, 2014, 10:21 am

      There should totally be a WWWD app.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 11:43 am

        an app – that’ll probably easier to get than like a live Wendy the size of a G.I.Joe figurine which is what I wanted for my pocket.

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  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite September 17, 2014, 10:14 am

    I like Wendy’s letter! Don’t you dare even entertain the idea of giving them your keys and tell the landlord they are ridi= for asking you that

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  • avatar

    Miss Lady September 17, 2014, 11:04 am

    Are you a renter? More specifically, are you and the neighbors renting from the same landlord? This could be an issue of improper insulation, and instead of you and your neighbors bickering between the two of you, you could band together and demand a solution from your landlord. I think it would be worth it to present this to your neighbors this way. At the very least, they might stop complaining to you and start complaining to your landlord.

    I would also suggest a wife swap of sorts (bear with me here). For example, you go to the neighbor’s apartment and Neighbor Lady goes to your apartment. Your fellow would show her around, play the tv at your standard volume, do whatever stuff you do that gets complaints. Meanwhile, you are upstairs and you’ll be able to hear what they are hearing. It could be enlightening. You could find out that your neighbors are crazy psychos who can’t hear anything and are just poop-stirrers, or you could find out that every tiny little thing you do reverberates loudly in their apartment. They will get to hear what it sounds like to live underneath a 3 and 5 year old and also hopefully realize you are not being excessively loud.

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  • avatar

    lily in NYC September 17, 2014, 11:26 am

    I just read the forum thread and holy crap! That key thing is just beyond the pale. My “living in NYC” rule is that I will only live in pre-war apartments because the walls are so thick. It’s amazing how much the sound is muffled. There is a family of 5 people below me squeezed into a 1bedroom and the 3 women scream at each other all day and night. I hear it, but it’s not loud enough to annoy me. The guy next to me had a party and I could barely hear it. And I have a sneaking feeling that the woman on the other side is really a ghost.

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  • Diablo

    Diablo September 17, 2014, 11:45 am

    OK, no offense to Wendy, but i think i’ve got it:

    “Dear Neighbour, Truly the world is a dark and frightening place but we must put ourselves in Jesus’ hands. Only through fasting and prayer can we find the spiritual guidance to remove the dark cloud of our sins that hangs between us. I invite you to join us at [most rabidly evangelical local church] on Sunday 8 am to 4 pm. Please do not eat or drink anything after 7 pm Saturday. We will pray, fast, and ask the Lord to forgive our transgressions against one another. Only through Him can we find the guidance to live righteous lives. Yours in the Holy Spirit, VA.”

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. September 17, 2014, 12:06 pm

      OMG. I love this. I so want to do this, but my evil neighbors moved out (finally).

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      • Diablo

        Diablo September 17, 2014, 12:13 pm

        It should go without saying that you need to be sure who you’re dealing with or this could go seriously wrong for you, unless of course, you would be into lengthy sessions of prayer and fasting.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. September 17, 2014, 1:15 pm

        I could always say that I’ve called away on a mission to do the Lord’s Work and can’t make it this week. Or, I could define “Lord” as “Lord and Master, the Prince of Darkness.”

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      • Diablo

        Diablo September 17, 2014, 1:39 pm

        Or possibly pop-diva Lorde.

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    • avatar

      va-in-ny September 17, 2014, 12:46 pm

      HA! You made me laugh out loud with that one!

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  • TaraMonster

    TaraMonster September 17, 2014, 10:47 am

    VA! Where are you? What happened?! Telllll ussss.

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    • avatar

      va-in-ny September 17, 2014, 11:03 am

      I’m here! Watching all of the replies – I will say, some of you are making me feel a lot better about my “annoying” neighbors, these stories are crazy!

      I’m holding out on telling what happened – It’s no fun to see the conclusion before you even get to comment! muahh hahahaha!

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      • avatar

        ktfran September 17, 2014, 11:16 am

        Tease!

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster September 17, 2014, 11:28 am

        Just tell me! I won’t tell anyone, I promise!! 😉

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 11:35 am

        But you’ll tell me.

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster September 17, 2014, 12:25 pm

        Haha. I totally would. Don’t trust me, VA!
        .
        PS I started doing Bikram again (well last time was sort of half-hearted so it doesn’t count completely). Today will be my 5th session, 4th day in a row. I am HOOKED.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 12:31 pm

        you go girl!! i got WAY into Bikram than WAY OUT OF it – just b/c it is so freaking time-consuming and then it’s extra hard when you’ve been out of it for awhile. Lately I’ve been doing it about twice a month. Once a week would be ideal but I always have some great excuse why I should not go this week…. Usually “because I’d rather take a walk and go get coffee with Le Moose” is my excuse.

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster September 17, 2014, 12:47 pm

        I’ve been blogging about it, actually (if you click my name you can see it). The time consuming part is the biggest downside, for sure. I’m pretty tired today because I’ve been going directly from work to Bikram, get home and have dinner, work on freelance projects, then bed. Yesterday I went shopping on my lunch break for some extra shorts and stuff because Bikram clothes get drenched so you need a lot of them. I feel like it’s consuming my whole life haha.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 1:02 pm

        I did Bikram for 65 days in a row. My goal was to do 60 but then I hit 60 and just get going. On day 66, I got off the bus, walked into the studio, then just hit a wall. I didn’t want to do it, so I just walked out and went to Whole Foods and bought 3 kinds of cheeses for a total of $30. I remember that day very vividly. All this to say: now you gotta go at least 66 days in a row so you can beat me.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 1:02 pm

        *just kept going

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster September 17, 2014, 1:21 pm

        Impressive! Idk if I can do that many days in a row! I already have to take Saturday off because I’m doing one of the fundraising walks for Alzheimer’s, and then later is my grandma’s surprise 80th bday party (I hope my grandma doesn’t read DW!).
        .
        Idk why I’m telling my whole life to the DW Universe lately, but I totally am, like way more than usual. Here’s another tidbit from my day: I ate a la Yogurt strawberry banana yogurt today, but because I’ve been eating plain yogurt for so long it tasted like pure sugar to me and was kind of gross. That’s all!

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 1:25 pm

        tell us more!

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      • avatar

        va-in-ny September 17, 2014, 12:48 pm

        I’m into Bikram now too! Though, I totally suck at it and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier – I feel like the sweating helps my skin 🙂

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster September 17, 2014, 1:11 pm

        …you must be going to my studio. The one in Ditmars? What if we’ve met and we didn’t know it!? I was at 6:30 class yesterday with Upkar. And I’m going again tonight!

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        va-in-ny September 17, 2014, 1:39 pm

        I looked at your blog thinking we might be going to the same studio, but I go to Bikram Yoga NYC (Flatiron and Midtown mostly) – I looked at the Astoria studio, but ended up choosing the Manhattan locations because they’re close to my office and I like the ability to choose different locations.

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster September 17, 2014, 1:15 pm

        Oh and I totally suck at it too! I sweat like a beast and my face turns beat red, though that happens to me even with the mildest form of physical activity because I’m so pale. I played soccer for years and years and I would never know if I had a sunburn or not for like 2 hours after a game. It ain’t cute!

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  • avatar

    Katy September 17, 2014, 11:53 am

    You know…there are these machines called “noise cancelling machines” for babies and adults! If they have issues with the sound, then they can buy those machines! Geezy! So grateful for our 2 acres of noise privacy where I am now! 🙂 I like Wendy’s response – spot on and you don’t have anything to apologize for!

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    • redessa

      redessa September 17, 2014, 12:54 pm

      Right!? I’m not on as much land as you but I’m feeling very appreciative of my free standing house with no shared walls, floors or ceilings and it’s own garage. I never hear any of my neighbors aside from the faint hum of a lawn mower once in a while or the normal sounds of kids out playing. But we’re talking younger kids who are in bed at a decent hour (including some of my own), not all night partying.
      .
      A road did go in behind us a few years ago which can be pretty noisy. You get used to it but one of my kids chooses to sleep with a white noise machine. Problem solved.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 12:08 pm

    You guys, what if it IS va-in-ny’s TV the neighbor hears? And what if the placement of the TV is right by a vent so the totally-reasonable-volume nevertheless carries up through the vent and what if it is insanely loud and it IS waking everyone up? Obviously, va-in-ny, only you know if this neighbor is being ridiculous and is the type of neighbor who just complains and complains and complains about ridiculous things like the neighbor Wendy dealt with. But what if moving the TV to the other corner or whatever will help? The neighbor will appreciate that and maybe will be happy to, like, limit opera to certain hours of the day when you’re not home? I just think there could be a win-win to all of this, but that would require BOTH of you being reasonable and willing to help out…. and well your neighbor may be a basket case. I’m just saying.

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh September 17, 2014, 12:11 pm

      I would agree except she said she got a complaint once when she was in bed and no one else was home. So, it seems like it’s probably another tv she’s hearing. Unless va-in-ny reads her books out loud at crazy volumes 😉

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 12:18 pm

        probably right. and i agree with everyone above. but i find trying to work it out and make little changes that don’t interfere with your life really go a long way with neighbors and generally (not always) people are appreciative and do nice things back and i think it’s always good to get off on the right foot – where you establish that you’re each looking out for each other and trying to make the close-proximity living arrangements as pleasant for both people – reasonably. and again, i’m not saying va-in-ny hasn’t tried this but *sometimes* killing people with kindness DOES WORK. i might ask the neigbor the next time she hears the TV to call and if it *is* my TV we can see if something reasonable can be done to stop the noise from bothering the neighbor (like moving the TV or whatever) and if it’s not my TV then maybe we can try to find the source of the noise together.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 12:19 pm

        i’m playing a bit of devil’s advocate here b/c i know i’d be really pissed if the faintest of noises pissed off someone who was so loud herself. so this may not be the situation that can be saved with kindness but you know i dunno

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      • Diablo

        Diablo September 17, 2014, 12:44 pm

        Thing is, what if you don’t get a reasonable and equal response, but you set a precedent of being willing to accommodate the other person? Like, for example, my neighbour whose dog was always barking and whose young kids were always running around banging and yelling (cuz they’re kids), but didn’t like me playing my acoustic guitar in the backyard (this would be like between 5:30 and 8 or so in the evening, not late or anything, usually about an hour at any one time). Now, i never mentioned the kids or dog before they brought up the guitar. I just accepted that kids and dogs will be kids and dogs, and that a bit of noise is part of living among people. But they treated it as though kid and dog noise was inevitable, but playing the guitar was my active choice to annoy them. I felt that was pretty unreasonable. And both kids and dogs can be trained not to make noise, or so much noise. And I didn’t play out there everyday, but the kids were noisy pretty much every day. So it felt unfair and unbalanced to me. So i just did what I felt like and continued to be a reasonable person as i saw it. My point is kindness and reasonableness only work with kind and reasonable people, but you rarely have trouble with those people anyway.

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        jlyfsh September 17, 2014, 12:22 pm

        Yeah I see where you’re coming from. But, I think this person in particular is a little crazy. Asking for a copy of her car key and to be able to move the car around? I feel like if she did what you’re saying this neighbor in particular would just walk all over her even more and make va-in-ny’s life miserable. There are people who it’s worth trying with at first, but you can only be nice for so long before there isn’t anything else you can do and you have to just not engage with them. Hopefully va-in-ny’s update helps clear those things up. Like maybe we’ll read it and be like yep, this neighbor is just plain crazy.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 12:25 pm

        what’s the car key thing about??

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        jlyfsh September 17, 2014, 12:27 pm

        the neighbor asked for a copy of her car key so she could move the car out of the spot that va-in-ny pays for. it sounds like on the weekend? it’s in the forum! normal people do not ask for copies of neighbors car keys so that they can use the spot the other neighbor pays for!

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      • redessa

        redessa September 17, 2014, 12:27 pm

        Oh have you not been over to the forums? You have to read that!

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 12:29 pm

        no i haven’t! right, i am definitely sensing this neighbor is an unreasonable basket case but i’m just playing the part of devil’s advocate here.

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    • redessa

      redessa September 17, 2014, 12:25 pm

      Plus the neighbor said it’s gotten worse since summer and the tv hasn’t moved. Rearranging might in fact help with however the sound travels, but even if it is currently by a vent, that still doesn’t account for this being a new-ish issue. I think the basket case theory is the best one so far. 😉

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  • avatar

    va-in-ny September 17, 2014, 12:44 pm

    Okay, fine! I’ll update!!

    I followed Wendy’s advice, which, she was kind enough to email to me yesterday so that I could go ahead and send a response.

    I sent Wendy’s letter, almost exactly, except for the last sentence.

    I changed the last sentence to: “We appreciate the same level of understanding and compassion from you and we will continue to monitor the noise levels and hope to keep things at a satisfactory level.”

    I didn’t really want to completely say “it’s not us!” because I’m afraid that there may have been times when it HAS been us – though I don’t think it would be very often – and I wanted to reiterate that we do try to keep things quiet.

    Here’s the email I got back:

    “Dear [va-in-ny],

    I am so sorry – it must be that the noise is coming from somewhere else. You are both such conscientious neighbors that I should have checked with one of the other neighbors first…it just sounded like it was coming from downstairs.

    Thanks for your patience, and of course we appreciate yours as well.
    Best,
    [Neighbor Mom]”

    BAAH-BOOOM!!! Wendy, you nailed it! Thanks so much!

    I haven’t seen her yet – only the children with their father (sidenote: I think they are separated or divorced, because Dad doesn’t have keys to the apartment anymore and they are never in there together.) but I can’t imagine that she would say anything about it. She sent the request in an email at a time she knew we would both be at work, which makes me think she doesn’t actually want to ‘talk’ about it.

    Honestly, the request normally wouldn’t make me bat an eye, but that email, coupled with the request for the parking space, sent me over the edge.
    (For those that didn’t see in the forums, we were asked to exchange car keys so that the upstairs neighbor could move our car out of our parking spot to use her car during the day. I responded politely that there would be no circumstances where we would be comfortable exchanging car keys with the neighbors.)

    I hope this puts an end to the constant complaining. I completely understand that there may be times when our tv is too loud, and there may be times where giving a recorder to a 2-year-old is too loud for us! I also hope they understand that launching a complaint about every.little.thing is exhausting and only leads to resentment. Maybe now we can continue to “go with the flow” of apartment living. Or, maybe they’ll move out, giving us the opportunity to move to the two-bedroom apartment upstairs! (fingers crossed!!)

    Thanks, everyone, for all of your responses!

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    • Diablo

      Diablo September 17, 2014, 12:48 pm

      Giving a recorder to a two year old is cruel and unusual punishment, which can probably only be redressed by taking up the bongos. But i’m glad you got a bit of reasonableness in return for your own conscientious response. I mean, you even sought professional help!

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      • avatar

        lily in NYC September 17, 2014, 1:27 pm

        I have a neighbor who plays the accordian every single day! I am just thankful it’s not bagpipes.

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      • avatar

        lily in NYC September 17, 2014, 1:28 pm

        I have a neighbor who plays the accordian every single day. I am just thankful it’s not bagpipes.

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    • redessa

      redessa September 17, 2014, 1:02 pm

      Yay! So glad she responded positively. It does sound like she’s not one to look for a confrontation and probably won’t push things as long as you stand up for yourself.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 1:05 pm

      oh good – you got a good response out of her. hopefully she won’t bug you again.

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    • avatar

      RedroverRedrover September 17, 2014, 1:33 pm

      OMG I just thought of something. What if she reads this site, and she knew it was her and she read everything in the forums about how she’s crazy. And now she’s seething but she didn’t want to send a totally cray-cray letter because then everyone would go nuts. So she’s just quietly biding her time until some night she sneaks in and steals the tv and the car keys and drives the whole shebang off a cliff.

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      • Portia

        Portia September 17, 2014, 2:04 pm

        Her neighbor is Thelma or Louise???

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    • Portia

      Portia September 17, 2014, 2:00 pm

      I’m so glad it worked out!
      .
      As for the car keys thing: I totally get how people with a better/closer relationship might be OK with this, bit even then it’s asking for a pretty high level of trust. So much could go wrong! Once I lent a very good friend my car for a few hours, and she managed to back into a fire hydrant! It’s been years and I think it’s still get only accident to date (and we’re still really good friends). Occasionally Bassanio lends out the car and I still get nervous (it’s his, so I can’t really say anything). Also, we have a tandem spot and considered a couple of ways to rent the other half out. But we came to the conclusion that it’d have to be a pretty close friend or roommate. So we did a parking space swap with someone who needed 2 spots and they pay us. We could make a ton more by renting out half our space, but it’s not worth it.

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover September 17, 2014, 2:11 pm

        The weirdest thing to me about the car keys thing was the timing. Like, you’ve JUST sent this letter to them about a noise complaint. And directly after that you’re asking for a favour? Dude, one thing at a time. See how the noise complaint shakes out before piling a favour on top of it. So weird.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy September 17, 2014, 3:42 pm

        That’s just like when my neighbor asked me for advice on — wait for it — how to write an advice column and I talked to her for at least half an hour on the phone and then the next week she complained about jackson playing with a friend too loudly (on a rainy weekday afternoon) and then followed that up by asking if I could water her plants while she was on vacation. It’s like, pick one: make complaints or ask for favors. In my book, you don’t get to do both.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 17, 2014, 3:46 pm

        Oh oh oh I bet she’s reading your site RIGHT NOW. (HI, WENDY’S NEIGHBOR – GO EASY ON JACKSON AND DAY-TIME PLAY DATES, JEEZ). Wendy, do you think people like her are clueless or they really think they can do both as you say?

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      • Diablo

        Diablo September 17, 2014, 4:34 pm

        Consider it from the complainer’s side. To them, the complaint is legitimate, so the favour is the least you can do to compensate for the offense you have already given. The trick is to remain as sensitive as possible to the shortcomings of others, while simultaneously keeping a strict cap on your own self-awareness. That’s what I do, and i feel GREAT!

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster September 17, 2014, 1:01 pm

      We really do need that WWWD app, though admittedly, a GI Joe sized Wendy would be cooler. It would be just like the Indian in the Cupboard, but with Wendy instead of cowboys and Native Americans! Maybe we could even get a pocket sized Miles, too? For advice on napping and eating, obviously.

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  • mylaray

    mylaray September 17, 2014, 12:54 pm

    I think Wendy’s advice is perfect here. I’ve also made the mistake of apologizing for things I shouldn’t apologize for. And it boggles my mind the requests some neighbors think are okay. Also reminds me I need to stop taking shit from my crazy neighbor. I swear she does this to get me to move out.

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  • avatar

    Aurora September 17, 2014, 12:55 pm

    Love Wendy’s response. It’s firm and diplomatic without being apologetic when you’ve done nothing wrong.

    I’m in NYC and consider myself very lucky that I can’t hear my neighbors at all, unless they are in the little vestibule waiting for the elevator. Can’t hear a thing if they are in their apartments, and I can hear my upstairs neighbors sometimes if they are playing music but even then it’s very faint. The only problem I’ve had thus far was when one of the neighbors on my floor had a woman staying with him for a week a few months ago. I know how long she stayed because she would scream at the top of her lungs every. single. day. At first I thought, oh, she’s having a bad day and really upset about something, shit happens, she will calm down. Nope. She would yell, scream, rant, rave about who knows what CONSTANTLY. And it was unintelligible – something about numbers, and a birthday? It got crazy. She would open the door, scream something like “17!! I told you, that’s my dad’s birthday!!” and then slam the door again. At first I thought she was on the phone talking to someone, but.. I don’t think so. And I don’t think my neighbor was actually home because I never heard another side of that conversation. I think at one point she said words that included “kill you” in this guttural, scary voice. I was actually concerned to enter and leave my apartment for fear I would become the target of her vitriol. Finally during one of her rants, my super heard her and knocked on the door. She answers, is all “what?”, and he goes “why are you screaming? I can hear you from the street.” Then she sounds normal and is all “oh I’m sorry, I didn’t know I was that loud.” ?!?!?!?! She said “oh I’m leaving on Tuesday.” He said, “I don’t care, just stop it. Stop. It.” Finally, she shut up and left a few days later. So help me if she comes back, I’m calling the super and then the cops.

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  • Monkeysmommy

    monkey's mommy September 17, 2014, 2:06 pm

    I love neighbors like this. I once lived on the 2nd floor of a 3 floor apartment, under a family of 6 with 2 kids and over an elderly woman on hospice. I felt terrible about the woman’s prognosis (I had been filled in by neighbors) and did my best to keep my two kids quiet. Meanwhile, family of 6 rode elephants through their apartment daily. Guess who got the ugly letters from the bottom neighbor? Ugh. A glaring example of when people jump to conclusions.

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